GOP Played Fast, Loose With Truth in Debate Fact Checkers point out inaccurate attacks By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Jan 17, 2012 10:33 AM CST 81 comments Comments Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich participate in a Fox News, Wall Street Journal-sponsored debate at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on January 16, 2012. (Getty Images) (Newser) – The air was thick with half-truths and distortions at last night's combative Republican debate. Here's how fact-checkers score the bout: Nearly every fact-checker blasted Mitt Romney for asserting that President Obama "has opened up no new markets for American goods around the world." Actually, Obama has opened up South Korea, Panama, and Colombia, in the biggest free trade expansion since NAFTA. Though, as a Romney spokesman points out to USA Today, all were negotiated under Bush; Obama fought to get them through Congress. Newt Gingrich called Obama the "best food stamp president in American history." Politifact rated that Half-True; yes, more people are on food stamps than ever, but that's thanks to policies and economic conditions Obama inherited. Ron Paul said the US had no income tax until 1913, but one was actually instituted temporarily in 1861 to pay for the Civil War. Rick Santorum said his ads "have been positive," and only contrasted himself with other candidates "in a way talking about issues." But the AP points out that his latest ad dings Romney as "just like Obama," among other attacks that go beyond issues. Gingrich asserted that Chile's private retirement system is "totally voluntary." Actually, it's completely mandatory. Romney asserted that "three years into office, [Obama] doesn't have a jobs plan." The AP points out that "like them or not, Obama has proposed several plans." Gingrich said Romney "raised taxes," and Romney said he "reduced taxes 19 times." Neither is totally true; Romney cut income tax, but raised revenue in business taxes and higher fees and fines.